Eureka! — Oh, damn.

I think I’ve figured out why a section of The Red Box was bothering me like mad on re-read. I’ve made nearly all the sources that Trajan relies upon have some sort of history or connection (even recent) to him, and nearly all of them care about him in some way. But there’s one who has none of that, and though there is history I’ve carelessly blown over it, and so it feels like he blasts through his interaction (and subsequent investigations) in a hasty and unattached, more plot-driven way.

I do wonder if this is why I have trouble writing him in the scenes with Instigating Character. They have little connection and my attempts to make them have one feel not-yet-there.

I say “Oh damn” only because I’ve already sent the chapters including these flat, less-powerful interactions to my patient first draft reader C., and I hate sending off material where I know there’s a major problem, because sometimes reworking it causes big changes, and also I’ve forced someone to read something majorly flawed.

Then again she’s reading a first draft and is aware of it, and yet has been kind and encouraging. I guess I’m just afraid of putting her off badly since this is especially raw material, whereas the first half of the draft has been reworked quite a lot, having not been entirely rewritten in the past four months. 😦

… In completely unrelated news, I would like to know why my body seems to feel that sleeping from 10:30ish to 1:30 = a full night’s sleep. *annoyed*

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A giddy ending

Remember how terrible I felt the first time I “finished” The Red Box?

… Well, I don’t feel that way this time!

I feel the way I usually do when I finish a story: completely ecstatic, giddy, and terrified. Terrified that when I go back and reread, I’ll discover the ending doesn’t fit or it’s really dreadful or some other horrible thing. But at the same time, completely over the moon and happy and content (as content as I get) with what I wrote and feeling like it really came together there at the end.

There’s a few things I am concerned about, but I want to do a reread before I share it with anyone, and then I want to bounce it off someone who’s already halfway through the first draft to see what she thinks, and then I will more broadly share with at least two or three other people.

Then more revisions, I am sure, likely this will go at least two or three more rounds of revisions, but…. … … !!!

It has an ending! That I don’t hate!! And it is 59,000 words!

You guys, I wrote a really small novel!

Log lines

I think this exercise in assembling a very short form pitch (tweet-style) of your story (part one here and the followup here) is very interesting and something I’d like to try. If nothing else, it’s a good way to take a look at the key elements of a story, helpful for everything from the one-line blurb to the synopsis, I’d think.

Yellow and red

Kira had never paid much attention to the god, but that morning, standing in line and looking up at it, it seemed at once ludicrous and terrible: a bear’s muzzle and teeth on a human face and body, the entire thing made of clear plastic, filled to the shoulders with dark red blood and beyond that, a yellow liquid that looked like fat. Where the two liquids met they swirled into each other, red wisps in deep yellow and vice versa.

The line moved, and there was only one person between Kira and her daily sacrifice. She looked around herself at the bored and yawning office workers, their cups of coffee clutched in their oft-punctured hands, and wondered if they had ever really looked up at the god, its huge, shiny shape illuminated from behind by the morning sun, if they had ever felt the strange awe that clutched her this morning.

The man ahead of her stepped up, put his hand into the mitt, hissed as the sharp needle inside punctured a random point on his fingertips. He must have been not quite awake, because he jerked his hand away automatically, and splatters of blood hit the pavement and speckled Kira’s blouse.

She sighed. At least she had a spare blouse at the office, she thought, and stepped up to make her sacrifice.

Artifact

Well, curses.

I was trying to write a scene where MC enters the apartment of a person who doesn’t really exist, and slowly, realizes what’s bothering him is the lack of personal touches. It’s been “window dressed” to look like people live there, but only on a quick glance.

But, this is a future culture where you can carry your personal everything on a small set tucked behind your ear. Maybe you have one backup stack or major system with all your entertainment/correspondence/etc but the majority of what you own is digital, intangible. So I can’t say that he misses the books, the movies, the letters, the unpaid bills. Of of that is digital. So what would be left? I assume a culture like that would be largely clutter free–maybe? And if so… what personal touches could he miss? The obvious stuff–pictures on the wall, stuff in the drawers like clothes or jewelry, I feel like someone faking the place would have noticed and covered.

Sadly I’m a cluttery person; I have boxes full of stupid things I keep as memories. But there is no requirement that all people would have that kind of thing. (Main character himself lives in a very sparse place, with a bed and chair and that’s about it.) Are there things which you might not think of right away which, no matter how neat you are, would indicate it’s a home and not a hotel? Clothes in the cleaning queue? Trash in the recycler? Or would all that be so automated it’d go right away? Hmmmm….

I guess I could just have it be something relatively obvious like the clothes are all newish and nothing looks used, but that seems so very obvious. Then again, he starts to wonder when he sees the kitchen cupboards are largely empty–though at first he writes this off as simply the person being someone who simply eats out all the time.

Must ponder.

Drifting, floating

I have a lot of story starts that go nowhere. For instance, I jotted this down, but there isn’t really a point.

He is an old man now. Old enough, anyway, that his hair is now mostly grey, his face a deeply craggy terrain. Sometimes he thinks that the years passed so quickly–though he isn’t sure how that can be, when the days crawled past, a tedious war against boredom. He sat in his toll booth, day in, day out, and he planned for better things, and the moments went by, 50 cents at a time, then a dollar, then a dollar fifty.

In his head he has been many things. A cop. A truck driver. A farmer. A sculptor. On rare occasion, an investments broker, sharp in his suit and tie, with clever remarks for the equally sharp women he imagines he would consort with.

I’d never heard of this market before but a friend tweeted about it, and I love the idea of it . A magazine for Scifi/fantasy + another genre? LOVE! And the next genres are Superheroes, sidekicks, and villains? SUPER LOVE! If I could get my writing act together…

I love this quote:

“It’s ironic these days that a fairy-tale ending is thought to be a happy ending, when most fairy tales are very, very dark. The little mermaid commits suicide. Hansel and Gretel put an old lady in an oven.”

– Joe Wright as quoted in the New York Times